[jsword-devel] Re: JSword license

Chris Little jsword-devel@crosswire.org
Wed, 01 Oct 2003 18:32:22 -0700


I'm sorry if I have to come off as the heavy here, but let me explain a 
few things.

The SWORD Project is licensed under the GPL.  Many portions of JSword 
are derivative of portions of The SWORD Project and are therefore 
covered by the GPL.  Regardless of who modified code from The SWORD 
Project for the port to Java, copyright is jointly held with the 
copyright holder of the original version.  Without permission of ALL 
copyright holders, no licensing terms other than those of the GPL are 

If, for some reason, you don't think a port is a derivative work, think 
of it as a translation between two languages, which you can research at 
the copyright office website.  The file format drivers are easily 
recognized as derivative, though.

While all code related to The SWORD Project is GPL licensed, the modules 
themselves are NOT.  They carry myriad different licenses.  Some modules 
are public domain.  Some can be used only for personal use and 
distributed for free or for no profit.  Some can only be distributed for 
use with the SWORD Project.  They include copyrighted material by 
hundreds of people who have not granted permission for use in non-GPL 

CrossWire will vigorously defend against reading our content with 
software not based on The SWORD Project because to do otherwise would 
jeopardize our relationships with content owners.

Speaking personally, I've spent on the order of ten thousand hours, 
working to build up our library of content with the knowledge that The 
SWORD Project is free software.  The GPL is our way of ensuring that our 
work remains free software and is never made proprietary.  I really 
resent that you would so cavalierly give permission to third parties to 
circumvent the legal protections we have placed on our work to ensure 
that it remains free software.

If we'd wanted The SWORD Project to be LGPL software, we would have made 
it so.


Joe Walker wrote:
> Personally Mike, if you've read my JSword code, I don't presume any 
> ownership of the part of your brain that changed as a result, so treat 
> my JSword code as documentation and then write your own code with 
> whatever license you like.
> This freedom may be in addition to what the GPL allows, but for the code 
> that I own, you have my permission.
> The bad news is I can't grant the same freedom for code that others have 
> a claim over, which you can tell by looking at the @author tags, and by 
> assuming that anything in org.crosswire.jsword.book.sword.* is tainted.
> I think it is a shame that we end up falling out whenever the GPL is 
> discussed, and each time it happens I like the GPL less.
> Joe.
> Mike Kienenberger wrote:
>> Chris Little <chrislit@crosswire.org> wrote:
>>> This describes the creation of a derivative work.  You've used a 
>>> copyrighted work to understand the format and derived a work-a-like 
>>> from that.  As a result, it must be GPL licensed.  You could remove 
>>> the compressed module code and just deal with the raw files, 
>>> releasing the result under Apache license or something else (you 
>>> could even keep it proprietary).
>> Can you provide me with a reference showing why knowing the format of 
>> the data makes code using the data a derived work?  There is no 
>> commonality between the c++ code used to convert an entire raw text 
>> file to a compressed format and java code used to look up a particular 
>> verse.
>> Please feel free to email me offline if this is not appropriate for 
>> the mailing list.